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Hong Kong Swimmers Brave Busy Waters

2018-11-4

Sandy Lam has been rising early each day to swim in the waters off Hong Kong Island for nearly 30 years.

Lam is 68 years old. He is part of a small community of about 50 people – mostly older adults – who often use the Sai Wan Swimming Shed.

The small building offers simple changing areas and wash rooms for people who want to swim in the Sulphur Channel.

“We’re all friends and we’ve known each other for a long time,” Lam said.

He added that the cost of using the swimming shed is not high. Members pay $19 a month, which pays for the running water, lighting and crews to keep the changing rooms clean.

The shed was built in the 1960s or 1970s. It is the last surviving building of its kind. Such structures were popular in the early part of the 20th century when Hong Kong was a British colony. At the time, there were few public swimming areas in Hong Kong.

Today the Sai Wan Swimming Shed remains popular with older swimmers and locals. Foreign visitors and newlyweds like to go there to take pictures.

Local swimmers cross a narrow, wooden bridge to reach the sea. They jump into the waters not far from the city’s financial center. Swimmers are able to see huge container ships leaving the port, passenger boats and fishing boats.

Ying Sing is 83 years old. “I’ve been coming here for 40 years, every single day,” Sing said, “I walk up the hill to come here, even on Sundays.”

Most swimmers say the exercise keeps them healthy, although some have noted a change in water quality over the years.

“I feel there is more plastic in the sea,” said 58-year-old Dennis Yeung.” He added, “I have noticed a difference since I’ve been swimming here from when I was small…There is quite a big difference. In the future, it will be more of a problem too.”

I’m Mario Ritter.

The Reuters news service report this story. Mario Ritter adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

shed –n. a small simple building

newlyweds –n. a couple who married recenlty

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